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By the numbers
The $42 million Cameron Hospital project includes:
110,470 Square feet of new construction
15,930 Square feet of renovated space
2 5 Private patient rooms
3 Operating rooms
2 Outpatient procedure rooms
13 Amount of acreage
Source: Cameron Memorial
Community Hospital
Courtesy of Cameron Memorial Hospital
This is an artist’s rendering of the new hospital.

Steuben hospital makeover a go

$47 million USDA loan approved

Persistence has paid off for a Steuben County hospital.

Cameron Memorial Community Hospital has secured a $47 million loan through the USDA on favorable terms, allowing the Angola hospital to plan a fall groundbreaking, officials announced Tuesday.

But it wasn’t a speedy process.

Officials filed the loan application in December 2010 – more than 18 months ago.

“When you’re dealing with the government in seeking funding, it becomes very bureaucratically complex,” said Greg Burns, Cameron’s president and CEO. “I don’t want to be viewed in any way as disparaging the process.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture needs time to investigate and confirm submitted information, he said. Hospital officials were surprised by how much time was needed, however. Burns had announced in January 2011 plans to break ground on the project in April of last year.

Receiving loan approval was the final leg in Cameron Hospital’s four-year journey, which included winning board approval, deciding the location, selecting an architecture firm and filing for building permits.

Burns described the loan’s terms as making it “well worth the time and effort to accomplish.”

Cameron Hospital will receive a $37 million direct loan from the USDA’s Rural Development Community Facilities program at a fixed interest rate of 3.375 percent for 40 years. The additional $10 million loan will be a 25-year loan at a market-based interest rate from the USDA’s Guaranteed Loan program.

Officials will spend $42 million on the hospital project and refinance existing debt with the additional $5 million, spokeswoman Laura Lutterbeck said.

Ron Menze, an architect and partner in Morrison, Kattman & Menze, has worked on the project. He blamed the delay on the economy.

“The government is being more cautious … and just drug their feet a lot,” he said. Securing USDA approval “was laborious, to say the least.”

But, in the end, the design was approved without alteration, Menze said.

“The wisdom of the project was never in question,” the Fort Wayne architect said.

Construction is expected to take 18 months on the new building. Afterward, crews will spend the next 12 months renovating and expanding the existing emergency room, the only piece of the current hospital that will be left standing after the project’s completion. The ER is the newest section of the existing building.

The hospital’s address will remain the same: 416 E. Maumee St.

The site will employ 90 workers a day, on average, Burns said. The hospital’s investment will contribute to Angola’s economy, he said.

A 52,000-square-foot medical office building, which will be connected to the new hospital on two floors, is now under construction. The schedule calls for it to be ready for occupancy late this year or early next.

Cameron Realty, a private development group, owns the building and will lease space to physicians.

sslater@jg.net

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